NEW YORK — As a freshman, Monique Semedo went to Marymount College’s Learning Center for some extra help in psychology. Inspired by her tutor and enriched by their synergistic relationship, she became a tutor herself, assisting students in English, psychology and women’s studies. Now, as she sets out to pursue a graduate degree in school psychology, this Yonkers native just can’t seem to shake the habit of helping people while learning right along with them.
During Semedo’s freshman year, positive experiences in both a women’s studies seminar and psychology class sealed her academic fate. She instantly embarked on an ambitious double major in psychology and women’s studies. Her hard work and academic diligence did not go unnoticed, and she later became a member of both the Alpha Sigma Nu Jesuit Honor Society and Psi Chi, the psychology honor society.
In addition to her various academic accomplishments, Semedo was also a very active member of the Marymount community as both a resident assistant and a member of the psychology club. However, it was Semedo’s unique and rewarding experience at the Learning Center that prompted her to seek similar opportunities both on and off the Marymount campus.
“I really enjoyed tutoring—helping students achieve their goals,” said Semedo, who was also part of the Learning Center’s support staff and was elevated to the post of head tutor during her junior year. “It’s all about helping people master what it is they want to master and establishing relationships while sharing information.”
In recognition of her efforts, Semedo was awarded the prestigious Mother Butler Award, which is given annually to a graduating senior who has demonstrated spirit, leadership and service throughout her four years at Marymount.
“Our philosophy at the Learning Center is to help students take ownership of their learning and we assist in empowering them,” said Polly Waldman, director of learning services at Marymount College of Fordham University. “While Monique has been here, she’s really gained a greater understanding of who she is and I think that her self-awareness has helped the students she’s mentored develop those same insights.”
This past semester, Semedo, together with Marymount College junior Ariele Sutka and sophomore Carol Clune, worked at Eastview Middle School in White Plains, N.Y., where they instituted a women’s studies mentoring project funded by the Marymount Institute for the Education of Women and Girls. In addition to conducting 10 afternoon sessions where they introduced 12 female students to women’s studies, the trio polled the students to measure how their experience and the mentor relationship impacted or changed their self-esteem. The data will be analyzed and interpreted by the institute, which promotes the identification of the educational needs of girls and women and seeks to facilitate positive transformation of their experiences in classrooms at all levels.
“It was a very positive experience on both the mentor side and the student side as well,” said Semedo.
In the fall, Semedo will be hard at work at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus pursuing a professional diploma in school psychology at the Graduate School of Education. She hopes to begin her career and continue her learning experiences as a counselor in a middle school somewhere in the tri-state area. After that, her dream is to create, design and research youth programs in an educational setting, keeping faithful to her routine of helping people while learning from them at the same time.